"In Event of Moon Disaster" was a proposed speech drafted by presidential speechwriter William Safire. It was intended to be read by President Richard Nixon during the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969 had a catastrophe occurred that would have prevented Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin from leaving the surface of the Moon. It is considered a haunting glimpse of the worst case scenario that could have made the historic landing a much more somber one. As the mission was successful and the astronauts returned safely, the speech was never used. It also never had to be adapted for any of the subsequent landings. The last line of the speech contains an allusion to Rupert Brooke's First World War poem, The Soldier.
The speech was part of a memo from Safire to Nixon's chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman. It detailed Safire's suggestions about how the Administration would react to a disaster that would leave Armstrong and Aldrin stranded on the Moon, including a speech, presidential phone calls to the "widows-to-be," and a religious ceremony for the astronauts.
The text of the memo was as follows:
To: H. R. Haldeman
From: Bill Safire
July 18, 1969.
IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER:
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.
In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.
PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT:
The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.
AFTER THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT, AT THE POINT WHEN NASA ENDS COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEN:
A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Without naming names or saying anything more than needs to said, this explains it well enough to my many friends at OSU and elsewhere who have been wondering about this.